A Long Time Dream Comes True
Forty-three years ago, when I was nineteen, I had a lot of dreams. One of them was to move to the sunshine state where my dearest friend lived. (Why she was my dearest friend is a different story for a different day, but I will tell you that she was my life-saver when I was fourteen). I wanted to be where she was, and she promised me sunshine all winter long. Even then, I hated cloudy November days with their promise of cold and snow on the way.
So I packed my car with everything I owned, and headed down the highway, going south. With a new license to practice nursing in my hand, I planned to spend the winter, and maybe forever, if my destination turned out to be as perfect as I thought it would be.
I arrived in sunny Florida with my pots and pans, my linens, and all the clothes I owned. Until I could find my own place to live, I moved in with my friend and her poor mom. I soon discovered for myself that Florida was everything she promised it would be. Sunshine and blue skies kissed the gentle waters of the Gulf of Mexico and its sandy white beaches. There was no need for heavy winter coats, and I loved it…for two weeks.
What I had not factored into my plan was the blond guy with blue eyes I left behind in cold Ohio. I had only known him for six months when I left, and wasn’t even sure he was important for my happiness. But absence did make the heart grow fonder. (That too, is another story for another day.)
So, once again I packed my belongings into that blue Ford, but this time I drove North…right into a snow storm. But it was okay, the blond guy was waiting for me.
After he asked me to marry him, I ask him if he would ever consider moving south where it was warm and sunny. His answer was brief and to the point. “No, I like home.” He had spent a year in a hot and humid place far from home, a place called Vietnam, and it gave him a great appreciation for people and places that were familiar and safe. And after that time in a muggy jungle, he even loved cold winters. I decided a home in cold Ohio with him would be better than year-round sunshine without him.
Forty-three years of life have now gone by. The blond guy and I built a home and made some babies. There have been thousands of beautiful sunny days, but there have been some cold and cloudy ones too. The lovely days have outnumbered the ugly ones, and the joyful days have more than made up for the painful ones. Our three daughters grew into lovely young women, but our son had to be buried.
Together, we learned that there were days when we had to take turns being strong, being loving, and even being kind. We recognized that when one of us failed, the other was there to make up the difference. When one of us was sick, the other had to be well. And on the days when we didn’t think we loved each other any more, marriage was the bond that kept us together, until we could love again.
The blond guy (I still call him that, even though he has little hair, and what he does have is now gray) and I spent our years together, trying our best to put God and family first. We both worked hard at jobs that paid the bills, and gave us a little extra to save.
The girls got married and gave us more sons and beautiful babies. On the days when we had time to look around us, we saw that life was good, in spite of the difficult days. And, most of our mutual dreams came true.
But, on snowy, windy, frigid days, I still thought about my dream of spending the winter days in the sunshine. I would sometime mention my old dream to the blond guy, and he would always say, “someday, maybe.”
Then, on a cold day last winter, when the snow was piled high, the blond guy looked at me and spoke the words I never thought he’d say. “Next winter, we’ll make that old dream of yours come true. It’s time.”
But, life had changed me and my dreams. I didn’t want to go south in the winter anymore. We now had nine grandbabies, and they had tied my heart to home. They were all the sunshine I really needed. I had to tell the blond guy that the dream had changed and I couldn’t go.
“But I’ve saved our nickels and dimes for forty-three years to make your dream come true. And it’s my dream now, too.”
I argued and gave him a list of all the “what ifs.” I told him we could do it, “someday, maybe, when the time is right.”
Then one day last spring, one of my hospice patients took my hand and said this to me, “Honey, don’t ever put off for tomorrow, what can be done today.”
In the months that followed, I tried to convince my daughters that they couldn't live without me close by. But the blond guy and I had raised strong women who had chosen good men, and they assured me they could take care of my grandbabies just fine, without me. They told me it was time to follow the dream. And they promised me that if I’d go with their dad, they’d bring my grandbabies to visit me, so we could all play in the sand and the sun together.
Last week, even though we both love home, the blond guy and I piled some of our junk into an old RV, and with retirement ahead of us, we traveled south, together. Our dream day had come.
As we drove, I reminisced about the path my life had taken while I was waiting for the dream to come true. I learned that living is about making the best of each day God gives us. It’s about moving forward, and accepting changes in time and people. It’s about becoming a stronger and better person. And yes, it’s about never giving up on your dream to spend a winter day in the sunshine with an old friend. Yes, she is still here and was waiting for me.
The blond guy and I plan on spending the winter in the sunshine together. When it’s over, I’ll know whether reality is as good as the dream has been. If it isn’t, then next winter, instead of sitting at the beach watching the waves caress the sand, I’ll sit beside my wood stove and watch the snow blanket my world in a coat of white. Instead of drinking ice tea to cool me off, I’ll drink hot chocolate to warm me up.
But no matter where I am next year, I'm thankful for today, for life, and for dreams that do come true
© 2014 B.J. Young